The Argentine ant is well known for its affinity for honeydew and is often associated with hemipteran outbreaks in agricultural and urban environments. It has been suggested that Argentine ants may be controlled by restricting access to honeydew, thereby forcing the ants to move or by encouraging increased liquid toxicant intake. We tested this possible control strategy by restricting Argentine ant access to the honeydew-producing terrapin scale within the canopy of red maple trees and monitoring ant numbers with pitfall traps and nest counts in the mulch around the tree base. Argentine ant nest numbers fell dramatically in the mulch around ant-excluded trees; however, there was no reduction in Argentine ant numbers caught in pitfalls around trees with or without canopy access. We added 0.5% boric acid bait stations at the base of the red maples and monitored bait consumption. Pitfall and nest counts were not affected by the addition of boric acid, although bait consumption was lower around ant-excluded trees, suggesting that restricting access to honeydew-producing Hemiptera did not enhance bait performance. We attribute this result to the increased distance Argentine ant workers had to trail from nest to bait station when not tending nearby terrapin scale. We suggest an alternative management strategy concentrating direct insecticidal control of Argentine ants around a few host plants infested with honeydew-producing Hemiptera by controlling Hemiptera in nearby host plants.
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Vol. 102 • No. 3